Monday, March 14, 2011

Why Don Slater, and thus the Homosexual Infomation Center, is either ignored or misunderstood

The first point to make is that no one else talking about the subject knew Don Slater or ONE in the days before the division in 1965. Some came after and ONLY talked to Dorr Legg and his co-workers or Jim Kepner, who took Dorr's side/view even though he had quit ONE twice over Dorr's deceitfulness, which is why Don Slater acted as he did. (I became a staff member to replace Jim when he quit the second time.) As far as I know, there are only three people still living that were at ONE at the time of the separation. Tony and Melvin are no longer active. And that leaves me. I have no ego to protect, but have a moral duty to see that the facts are on the record. Apparently either most people did not read Todd White's book on the subject (Pre-Gay L. A.) or refuse to accept facts that don't support their agenda.

Historians and journalists who have written or spoken on this subject have been incompetent and unethical since they never heard our side of the history. That includes an editor of a West Hollywood newspaper who calls our archives a "rump" part of ONE. And it includes those who only listen to the lies of those who now have what remains of Dorr's (and Jim Kepner's) part of ONE, especially John O'Brien, who keeps sayng we stole Dorr's library and he "saved' it later when Don died. You have to wonder about the person who will ignore legal documents and listen to the version of history by someone who was not there and has a personal agenda to promote.

The most outrageous claim is that Don Slater, and even Dorr and others at ONE were not "gay" enough, and were not "out" enough. That is hard to say of course when you consider the facts-THEY were the first public voice of this movement. Not many people had their picture in a major magazine, LIFE, in 1964 as editor of a homosexual publication, As Don and Hal Call did. Usually this nonsense is said by those who have a different view of the movement than ONE/HIC has. While in a sense the great work of ONE is now mainly two libraries/archives a few of us continue to speak on issues based on the work started in 1950. And serious people will find good information and history in the issues of ONE Magazine. Reference is made to Don's views in articles published in general newspapers as well as a week of tv discussion in 1966 by Don as co-host on a L. A. tv station, with Maria Cole.

I have thought of some of Don's words/views as him being the devil's advocate and others say Don never said anything he didn't mean. That is too easy a black and white assertion.. For instance it is not easy to deal with what were and are the two most difficult aspects of pr for this movement-children and politics-usually communism. Bigots gleefully connect homosexuality and communism, and they are helped by the fact that this continuing movement ws started by communists-or more correctly ex-communists, as they were kicked out of the party because of their sexuality and the correct fear that the political effort would be attacked because of homosexuality. So how then do we think of Don's words about the (CSW) Pride parade? He accused the founders of being hypocrites since they were going to exclude two groups, NAMBLA and the "gay nazis.," while bragging of their diversity and unity of the cause. Now we had no connection to youth issues and we always thought that the "gay' nazis were FBI or some undercover people. We also thought that two nice young men who showed up to help with the Motorcade, and were never heard from again, were FBI. It didn't matter, they helped and we were happy to have them there. I don't think Don wanted them in the parade, but he wanted to point out the false claims of the parade people. I think Joe Hansen worked on the parade.

But now I am going to show you, in case even you have not read some of Don's thinking, what scares these current "gays." The quote is from Homosexual Information Center Newsletter #47, of December, 1992. Devoted to book reviews, the newsletter shocks the reader first with the negative review of a play/book, Queer Edward II , screenplay and commentary by Derek Jarman, British Film Institute, distributed in the U. S. by Indiana University. For those closet cases who fear the honesty of Don Slater, they will really be ungay with the words of Mattachine and ONE co-founder (and author of The Cowboys), Dale Jennings. But what is apparently still shocking to most glbt people today are the following words of Don Slater (while reviewing Eric Marcus' book, Making History: the struggle for gay ad lesbian equal rights, 1945-1990, an oral history ):

"This tiny, California-based magazine (Lisa Ben's Vice Versa) was a beginning. But like the early Mattachine Society (ed. note, it seems it should be Foundation) that followed, neither was the start of the homosexual movement in this country. They were forerunners. The late Chuck Rowland tells us that from 1950 and into 1953, the Mattachine Society held numerous discussion groups in Southern California. Topics dealt with how to come out and how to deal with the law and one's family and job. No printed advice was available; there was no one qualified to write as an authority on a subject hitherto unexplored by unbiased scholars. Just as Vice Versa was published for a chosen few, the Mattachine also aimed at a special band of followers. The meetings were often large but closed to the public. Those who gathered talked to one another in private.

The idea of educating the public began with the publication of ONE Magazine in January, 1953. ONE was the start of the homosexual movement and the start of the gay press as well. The Magazine aimed at a readership that included the general public. It was sold on newsstands beside the leading periodicals of the day. Professionally printed and having two-dozen pages of a 6x7 format, ONE sold for 25 cents. Boldly on the cover were the unequivocal words: ONE, The Homosexual Viewpoint, a matter of much contention among editors and readers. Its much criticized lack of subtlety and taste was ONE's chief selling point. It said: "We are! There is movement." Homosexuals were no longer whispering among themselves under obnoxious euphemisms such as "homophile," "lambda," and the insanely misleading term "gay."

The secrecy and fear of those times runs through many of the stories in the Marcus collection. There was the personal anguish over "coming out." The concern of these sexual emancipators with what society will think about their homosexuality borders on the paranoiac. They were hung up over homosexual urges most farm boys take for granted. One young man in New York City named Morty Manford was so mortified about his homosexuality during the Stonewall riots that he ran to his mother for comfort and support. At the city's christopher St. Liberation Day Parade in June 1972, Mrs. Manford carried a sign that read: "Parents of Gays: United in Support of Our Children." This is how the Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays groups got started. And the parents in PFLAG still console their young today.

With the opening of politics in the early 1970s the movement became ripe for exploitation, and the usual army of profiteers moved in. Bruce Voeller, Howard Brown, Jean O'Leary, Virginia Apuzzo, Charles Brydon, Troy Perry, David Mixner, Torie Osborn began to steer the elected bureaucracy and the "gay community" into the right, "safe and correct" causes that could be endorsed by politically savvy politicians. Brydon describes how he took a job at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force that paid $17,000 a year in 1979. It was "a totally impossible salary" according to him. Since that time lesbians and gay advocacy has become the fastest growing industry in the nation. Executives of the larger organizations now command $75,000 to $100,000 a year. And they would all go back into their closets tomorrow if the salaries wsere cut off.

Through Marcus's histories we come to see that the level of commitment today is dramatically different from that of the pioneering activists of the 1940s and 1950s. The pioneers saw themselves as ordinary individuals, homosexual activity as something personal. They wanted equal protection, assimilation, privacy. The politicized gays see homosexuality as the sum total of what they are. They want position, rank, and public recognition on the basis of this one most intimate aspect of their lives. As such, they are part of a failed revolution which seems to be plunging back into prejudice and opprobrium, making it necessary to start all over from the beginning as human beings, not as clowns and sexual performers."

(Charles Lucas did give a favorable review of The Dreyfus Affair, a love story by Peter Lefcourt.)

The average person may not agree with much of Don's thinking, and know that he and others got salaries of perhaps $50 a week which may help explain his thinking on someone complaining about a salary of $17,000. And a few people who disagreed with personality issues ignored that because of the great work Don (and Dorr, et al.) did. They were conservative, I am a liberal Democrat. And Troy and others did work with Don (such as picketing the Los Angeles Times) and ignore his irascible nature-or perhaps they would use other adjectives. It was not money or politics that separated Don and Dorr, it was what effort deserved the higher priority. But I think it is politics that separates others then and now-such as John O'Brien. As in generic politics, I don't understand why John, et al, can't disagree with Don (and thus Dorr) without telling lies and making false claims.


Donna Ellis, PLFAG Phoenix said...

I can’t speak to any part of this posting, Billy, except the PFLAG part. I had never heard that Morty Manford was even at the Stonewall riots, nor that he had “run to his mother,” but I find the section about PFLAG rather negative. We NEVER “console”, and almost laughed out loud when I read that word in conjuction with us. We do have more GLBTQQI members than parents these days, and I would say that many of us are as activist as we can be in so many issues. We serve meals to HIV/AIDS victims, we educate in all kinds of ways, we are in the middle of trying to educate more people about various Trans issues here in Phoenix, we demonstrate politically so often we wonder when our last quiet night was….(because we’re mad as hell), and we try to go to every support group here in the valley. We do speaking engagements in every school who asks us to come, and we have a PFLAG table at every event who asks us….It’s a good thing we’re retired. We’d never have time to work a real JOB! But
CONSOLE? When we have new parents attend a support meeting, and they might be crying because they have just discovered that their kid is glbt, we tell them it’s NOTHING to cry about, in fact it’s not a negative at ALL—it’s a positive! They might not be able to see it yet, but with a little education, they will. CONSOLE? HELL NO! There is nothing to console about! We aren’t consoling….we are activists, and we’re out there on the front lines, trying to make a difference! Your slant about PFLAG wasn’t taken well….. I never knew Morty (or Jeanne) Manford, and don’t really care HOW PFLAG was started, but I know what it’s doing now, and I see a bunch of people who are paid NOTHING making a difference.

Billy Glover said...

As I should have made plain more, i did not always agree with Don, and remember this was written years ago, and his fear of PFLAG, as with gay churches, etc was that it would try to make homosexuality a 'special' thing and he thought we should be fully integrated in the world and that our sexuality was no one's business. That seemed to make some people think he was not happy being gay, which was obviously not true.

I attend PFLAG meetings in Shreveport and know what you are saying. I think that just knowing you are there is helpful to some people, even if they don't contact you or attend meetings. And it can't hurt when advice columnists give your address, etc.

Even though things had changed dramatically from when they started in 1952, things have changed more since Don's death in 1997. The others are dead too. The generic issues they had are now irrelevant since, there are groups and publications to cover every aspect of the issue and of course at the time there was only ONE, and they had to do everything.

We stayed out of politics, for good reason, then. Now our movement as you know is into politics, and now disagree, among the Democrats, Republicans and Independents, but that is good, not bad. So Don would have changed. His main concern was the sodomy laws, making us all criminals. Now those laws no longer exist thanks to Lawrence vs Texas. So he then would have moved on to other issues. And he would have seen how PFLAG, COLAGE, MCC, etc. have grown and been great resources.

Donna Ellis, PFLAG Phoenix said...

Yes, Billy…..I totally lost track of the fact that this was DON saying this, and saying it way back there, not now.
(whew!) Thank heavens that people don’t think we’re a “consoling bunch” now! OMG. (LOL) One way to get the little (old) people fired up! (I’m grinning) When I put this in the context of the time in which it was written, it makes sense, too. Yes, I can understand, but when I read those words, I really got my dander up! I’d like to think that Don would have changed too….
It irks me that so many heteros (heck, I’m ashamed to BE one most of the time) are so interested in only the SEX lives of GLBT’s, but none of the other dimensions. They are just so uneducated and usually have that “brick wall” attitude. Wonder if that will ever change?
Please keep those wonderful e-mails coming, Billy, but let me know who is talking! (grin) I hope not every one of your readers was as thick-headed as I was! I love your posts!